Tagged: review requests

I Really Am Closed to Book Review Requests

I’m sure you guys are as tired of reading this as I am of typing it but here it is again: I am closed to book review requests.  It says so in bold at the top of my ‘Review Policy’ tab.  It also says that any author sending me a book review request anyway will be banned for life from my blog.  Yes, it’s harsh but I feel it’s necessary at this point.  Things are getting absolutely ridiculous.

In the past two weeks I have had over 5 review requests from inconsiderate authors and publicists who clearly don’t know basic courtesy, let alone how to read.  Basic courtesy dictates that you check a reviewer’s review policy before submitting your book to them and knowing how to read helps you not send that request when the reviewer states they are not open to requests.

This really shouldn’t be that difficult but it is.

Unless I have specifically told you in the past to send your books whenever you like, stop sending me review requests!

The Mad Reviewer is Now Closed to Review Requests

In light of my recent announcement as well as the fact that I have a lot of books on my to be read list from my open submissions, I will now be closing my review requests until further notice.  I’m sorry if you wanted to get your book reviewed but didn’t this time around.  As always, feel free to submit your book once I open requests again, which is not likely to happen until next spring (around May).

If you submit a request while I am closed, you will be blacklisted from my blog starting on June 26, 2015.

Thank you for your understanding.

My 2014 Blogging Goals

I’m a little late on the blogging goals band wagon, seeing as most bloggers posted their goals early this month, but better late than never.  One advantage of posting later is that I’ve had time to reflect on other peoples’ blogging goals and to see if I want to adopt some of them.  So what exactly are my blogging goals this year?

1.  Reach 1,000 followers.  (WordPress and email combined.)

I started out the year with 633 followers and at the time of writing this post I have 687 followers.  In 2013 I acquired 455 new followers so I’ll just have to stay on pace with my average of about a follower per day.  So why do I want 1,000 followers?  Why not 900 or some other high number?

Well, the answer is that on NetGalley most of the large publishers like Penguin are only accepting review requests from blogs with 1,000+ followers.  Some of my favourite books are published through Penguin, so by reaching the 1,000 follower milestone I’ll be able to request them.  It’s not guaranteed that I’ll be accepted, but with my really high reviews to requests accepted ratio it’s not going to hurt my chances.

2.  Publish one well-researched article per month.

I’m not talking about my rants here.  I’m talking about articles like The Portrayal of Cleopatra in Historical Fiction.  In other words, articles that take a little more research and a little more thought than rants do.  Besides, rants are spur-of-the-moment sorts of things and I rarely schedule them more than a couple of days ahead of time.  I want my research-intensive articles to be a little more thorough and I want to schedule them a couple of weeks in advance to give me more time to reflect on them as well as make corrections.

3.  Reach 650 reviews total.

Right now I’ve written 464 reviews, meaning I’ll have to read and review 186 more books, short stories and novellas this year.  That means I’ll be writing a little over 16 reviews per month, which is doable for me.  It’s about 4 reviews per week for the rest of the year, which is also quite doable.  I read a lot and review pretty much everything I read.  Besides, I like hitting big milestones like this.

I figure that if I reach my goal of 650 here in 2014 I can hit 800 in 2015 and (if I’m still around the blogosphere) reach 900 in 2016 and 1000 in 2017.  My review production is going to slow down in 2016 and 2017 due to general life stuff but I’m hoping to at least hit 1,000 reviews in total for The Mad Reviewer.  I don’t want to quit anytime soon, so I don’t have any plans for shutting down my blog for a long time yet.

4.  Control my review requests!

I will clear my waiting list.  No ifs, ands or buts.  There is no excuse for me to still have the books authors requested I review on my list here in 2014.  After I clear all of the pending requests, I will be initiating an open submission call for no more than a month, close down requests until I clear them again and then doing the same thing.  This will be far more manageable and I’ll also have a new form for authors to fill out so I can weed out those books that really don’t interest me.

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These are my blogging goals for 2014.  What are some of yours?  What do you think of mine?

Changes to The Mad Reviewer in 2014

So the results of my poll are in and I’ve decided based on the results as well as my own observations that I’m going to be making a few changes around here in 2014.  Just so everyone stays in the loop, here are some things that will change:

1.  I will use a new theme.

This is obvious because I chose a new theme for 2013 as well.  A year with Coraline has taught me that clean themes are certainly the best, so now I’m torn between Nuntius, Quintus, Truly Minimal and Fusion themes here on WordPress.  I’ll probably narrow things down in the coming weeks, but my new theme will definitely be clean.  It’ll just be different enough to change things up a bit.

2.  I’m going to be doing more articles/rants.

As you guys know, I don’t rant just for the sake of ranting.  I haven’t been truly annoyed at something for a while, which is why there haven’t been any rants.  So instead, in the new year I’ll be doing more research-based articles similar to Why Girls Hate Game of Thrones–A Rebuttal as well as The Hunger Games and Ancient Rome.  I may even do articles about my favourite figures in history and talk about some of the better portrayals of them in historical fiction.

Basically: be on the look out for some more serious articles in the new year.

3.  I’m going to try to reopen review requests by next fall at the latest.

I had been aiming to have my review requests all cleared up by Christmas, but that’s not going to happen.  My bosses are taking a two week vacation so I actually get two weeks off as well and I’ll try to clear as many books as I can.  Will I finish them all?  Probably not.  But I’m aiming to have everything clear by spring and failing that, fall of 2014.

Fall is probably a more realistic estimate considering that summer is always ridiculously busy at work and because I have taken on a second job.  I’ll be sending out the occasional review request to authors, but I won’t be taking any review requests from them.

4.  I’m going to include some new features.

I’ve been getting a little bored with my current cycle of posts, so in the new year I’m going to change things around a little.  I’ll still be posting mainly reviews during the week, but on the weekend I’m hoping to have a discussion post and maybe something new like a blogger profile.  This is all very tentative since I don’t have anything concrete actually thought out, but I would love some suggestions for things to spice up my blog.

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Well, what do you think?  Do you like some of the changes?  Do you have any suggestions for new things to spice up my blog?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Why I Rejected Your Review Request

To all my readers I’m really, really sorry.  I know I’ve been harping on and on about review requests lately and that you’re probably sick of it, but I promise this is the last post about review requests for a while.  It’s going to be a sort of pillar post for authors, I suppose.

If you’re an author and you’re reading this you’ve either found it via search engine, social media or simply because you’re a regular reader of my blog.  Fair enough.  But if you’re an author who sent me a review request and got this link I feel I need to explain to you why I’m rejecting your review request.  I get it, authors need reviews in this new scary world of social media, especially since the rise of the book blogger.  And I get it that not a lot of reviewers are open to indie submissions like I am.  That’s why I feel this article is so important: you don’t want to alienate the reviewers you need to publicize and therefore sell your book to other readers.

So here is hopefully my final, comprehensive list of how and why review requests get rejected.

1.  I’m closed to submissions.

If I’m closed to submissions you can be entirely secure in that my rejection of your review request isn’t personal.  I’d reject J.K. Rowling if she submitted a review request when I’m closed to submissions.  If you’re being rejected simply because I’m closed to submissions as long as you aren’t rude about it you’re welcome to submit again when I am open to submissions.  Seriously, next time just read my review policy more carefully, okay?

2.  You sent me a generic request.

A generic review request with a greeting line like “Hi!” or “Dear Sir/Madam” or anything variation thereof actually stings a little for us reviewers.  I mean, here you are, this author that’s requesting we take hours of our time to read and review your book and you can’t even take the time to find out our names?  To a blogging community that is gaining power online but still being generally rejected by the mainstream media, that hurts just a little.  Every article you’ve ever read about submitting a query to an agent tells you to address them with their name, so why are you going around using generic emails to contact reviewers?

3.  Your book is not something I’m interested in.

Yes, despite the seeming randomness of this blog I am technically a YA reviewer.  I do review anything that catches my fancy, but my main focus is YA.  So if you’re submitting a picture book or an erotic novel, I think you can see that there’s going to be a problem.  But what if I rejected you even though your book is targeted at young adults?  Well, it could be that I feel there’s too much romance (I hate romance) or that it’s a genre I’ve read far too much of (vampires).  Again, it’s nothing personal.  I just try to read books I think I’ll like.  It’s that simple.

4.  You didn’t follow the instructions in my review policy.

Yes, as part of my review policy you must include your follower statistics in your first email to me.  This isn’t to weed out poor newbie authors so much as it is to weed out people that don’t follow my policy.  I get a lot of submissions so I can’t afford to waste my time on people that don’t follow my instructions.  Really, most book reviewers I know can definitely afford to be picky especially when they’re accepting indie submissions.  That’s why when you submit to other reviewers I would advise you to read their policy and follow it to the letter.  First impressions matter.

5.  You have a reputation for being nasty to reviewers/have been rude to me previously/are pushy in your review request, etc.

I was recently told to kill myself by an author because I rejected his review request.  I think you can see why I’m a little reluctant to accept submissions from authors whose Google searches turn up all sorts of nasty things on Goodreads or book reviewing sites.  If I find out that you’ve attacked reviewers for negative reviews previously, have been paying for fake good reviews or have been doing any other shady behaviour I’m not going to accept your request.  And yes, I absolutely do my research.  You can be sure that if there’s something out there I’ll dig it up and reject your request so fast your head will spin.

An Example of How Not to Write a Review Request

Comment: Dear Sir/Madam,
​​
would you please be able to write the review of the poetry anthology. you can give a look to the profile of the anthology on the links

[Several links to the poetry anthology.]
I am looking forwards to work in close cooperation with you

best wishes and regards

[Name redacted]

A few months or so ago this would have made me insanely mad.  Now it just makes me facepalm.  Why?  Because no matter how many articles I and other book bloggers write about the importance of reading review policies and personalizing review requests, people like this man who emailed me won’t listen.

Yet I’m still going to dissect the many reasons why this man went wrong because I’m a little cranky and nitpicky today:

Dear Sir or Madam

1.  He addressed me as Sir/Madam.

Honestly, it’s not that hard to find my name.  It’s in the first sentence on my About page, which is along the top of my blog.  This is pure laziness and carelessness.  He doesn’t care enough to take a few seconds to find out my name, let alone my gender, so why should I even bother clicking on the links in his email, let alone agree to review his book?

Grammar Dog

2.  His grammar is terrible for a writer.

I don’t claim to be a grammar expert; I break the rules of grammar quite frequently here on my blog because a blog is quite casual.  A review request is not, however.  Review requests are not exactly formal, but they are not so casual that you don’t even bother capitalizing the first letter of your sentences.  I get that poets play with the rules of grammar a lot more than bloggers, but to anyone who considers themselves a writer this is completely unacceptable.  Even if I had been addressed by my name (or even by my correct gender), I would reject his request for this alone.

If you think I’m being nitpicky about the capitalization, re-read the last sentence: “I am looking forwards to work in close cooperation with you”.  Enough said.

Lazy Garfield

3.  He didn’t provide me with any information other than telling me to check out links.

If you want me to review your book so badly, you had better include some information to at least get me interested in it.  Telling me you’ve written a ‘poetry anthology’ and just giving links makes you look lazy and makes me want to hit the delete button.  Again: why should I review your book if you can’t even take the time to copy and paste your own blurb into the email?

Ignorant

4.  He didn’t see/chose to ignore that I am closed to submissions until 2014.

This could have been accomplished by looking at my review policy.  It’s at the top of it in bold, capital letters.  A writer has to know how to read as well as write as far as I know.  So why couldn’t he take the time to read my review policy?  If he did in fact read my review policy, he chose to ignore the fact that I am closed to submissions for another four months!  That, my friends, is massive disrespect and won’t help you get your book reviewed.

Facepalm

5.  He didn’t read my full review policy anyway.

You know that part in my Review Policy in the third paragraph that is in bold letters stating what I won’t review?  Well, guess what!  Poetry is something I won’t review unless you’re Dante, Homer, Virgil or Milton.  I guarantee the man submitting his poetry anthology to me is none of the four I mention.  Therefore, even if he somehow didn’t see that I’m closed to review requests, he obviously didn’t read the review policy at all.  I think we can safely conclude that he was too lazy to read my policy, right?

I Give Up

I know that the types of authors who already do this sort of lazy/ignorant/thoughtless thing won’t be reading this post.  If they do, they certainly aren’t about to change right now.  However, maybe new writers looking to learn how to write review requests might read this and learn a little something.  If nothing else, they’ll learn about why so many reviewers are more than a little frustrated at authors.  (Especially self-published authors unfortunately.)

The Day an Author Suggested I Kill Myself

I’ve been book reviewing for one year and seven months now.  Comparatively I haven’t been around for very long in the blogging world, but I have been around long enough.  What’s ‘long enough’?  Well, I’ve been blogging long enough to have trolls try to start flame wars and authors attack me for having an opinion and expressing said opinion.  I’ve learned to deal with it because, hey, most authors and commenters are awesome people.  I was also blessed with a thick skin as well as an iron-clad commenting policy that I’ve always followed.

Compared to the experiences of some book bloggers I’ve had it pretty good.  Some book reviewers have faced far worse than I have, others have faced far less.  For the most part I’ve put up with it and have not called out authors publicly because I didn’t think their behaviour constituted public humiliation.

Until now.

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